How the Premier League dealt with this season’s new rules during opening weekend

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It was a challenging weekend for Premier League officials as they got to grips with various rule changes introduced by football


The Premier League had its first exposure this weekend to the new rule changes introduced by football’s law-makers IFAB over the summer.

The opening weekend of the English top-flight season saw players – and officials – get to grips with the various tweaks.

We take a look at how the Premier League dealt with the changes during matchday one.

It was a challenging weekend for Premier League officials as they got to grips with various rule changes introduced by football’s law-makers IFAB over the summer

Free kicks: No attacking players allowed in the defensive wall

Players from a team that wins a free-kick within shooting range are no longer allowed to ‘infiltrate’ the defensive wall set up by the opposition.

They must stand at least one metre away or risk the punishment of an indirect free-kick being awarded against them.

This change was enforced on the whole, but Liverpool came up with a novel way of getting around it during their 4-1 win over Norwich City on Friday night.

Liverpool found a loophole in the new Premier League rules on defensive walls by constructing their own a metre in front of Norwich's during Friday's opening game

Liverpool found a loophole in the new Premier League rules on defensive walls by constructing their own a metre in front of Norwich’s during Friday’s opening game

The Liverpool wall simply split when Trent Alexander-Arnold stepped up to strike the free-kick

The Liverpool wall simply split when Trent Alexander-Arnold stepped up to strike the free-kick

Jurgen Klopp found a loophole in the rules by asking his players to construct their own three-man defensive wall a metre in front of Norwich’s, thus obstructing the view of the Norwich defenders and keeper Tim Krul.

The Liverpool players then ducked out of the way when Trent Alexander-Arnold struck the free-kick.

Tottenham used a similar tactic as Christian Eriksen stepped up to take a free-kick during their 3-1 win over Aston Villa on Saturday. 

Former referee Chris Foy said: ‘It’s within the letter of the law’ meaning other teams could well follow suit. 

Tottenham tried a similar tactic when Christian Eriksen took a free-kick against Aston Villa

Tottenham tried a similar tactic when Christian Eriksen took a free-kick against Aston Villa

Goal kicks: Receiving the ball inside the penalty area

Previously, the ball had to leave the penalty box from a goal kick before play could move forward but that requirement has now been removed from the rules.

Given that many teams now like to play the ball short from the keeper, this suits them, especially as opposition players must remain outside the box until the ball is moving.

Manchester City keeper Ederson played plenty of short goal kicks against West Ham

Manchester City keeper Ederson played plenty of short goal kicks against West Ham

It probably comes as little surprise that Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City sought to exploit this new rule more than most.

80 per cent of their goal kicks during their 5-0 win at West Ham on Saturday didn’t leave the box as Ederson played it short to a waiting defender.

Two-thirds of Liverpool’s goal kicks were short and half of Tottenham’s as teams play out from the back. 

It was also a reflection of Norwich’s intent to attack that 47 per cent of their goal kicks went short. 

Substitutions: Players must leave the field at the nearest point

In an effort to clamp down on time-wasting when teams make substitutions, players going off must now leave the field by the nearest point on the touchline.

This was generally observed but Tottenham’s Erik Lamela became the first player booked for failing to adhere to this new rule.

Tottenham's Erik Lamela gets a ticking off from referee Chris Kavanagh for not leaving the field at the nearest point on the touchline when substituted

Tottenham’s Erik Lamela gets a ticking off from referee Chris Kavanagh for not leaving the field at the nearest point on the touchline when substituted

He was replaced by Georges-Kevin Nkoudou in the 88th-minute of Spurs’ victory over Aston Villa on Saturday and trotted right across the pitch to the technical area.

Because he hadn’t exited the field at the nearest point, referee Chris Kavanagh had little option but to present the yellow card.

Manchester United's Andreas Pereira walks round the pitch after being subbed off

Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira walks round the pitch after being subbed off 

Handball: ‘Unnatural’ arm positions punished

The summer saw a clarification of what does and doesn’t constitute handball with players told they cannot make their body ‘unnaturally bigger’ by sticking out their arm or hand to block the ball.

The opening weekend saw what is likely to be the first of many contentious handball decisions in Sunday’s goalless draw between Leicester City and Wolves.

Wolves saw what would have been a winning goal disallowed by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) after Willy Boly was adjudged to have set up goalscorer Leander Dendoncker with his arm.

The most contentious incident of the weekend came when Wolves had a goal chalked off at Leicester when Willy Boly was adjudged by VAR to have handled in the box during the build-up

The most contentious incident of the weekend came when Wolves had a goal chalked off at Leicester when Willy Boly was adjudged by VAR to have handled in the box during the build-up

The rule change removed the word ‘deliberate’ from the handball regulations and so when replays showed Boly had controlled the ball with his arm, it didn’t matter whether it was intentional or not.

On Saturday, Watford’s Roberto Pereyra thought he should have been awarded a penalty after his free-kick struck Brighton’s Glenn Murray on the elbow.

But after a VAR check, Pereyra was left disappointed.

Watford's Roberto Pereyra believed he should have been awarded a penalty when his free-kick struck Brighton's Glenn Murray on the elbow - VAR disagreed

Watford’s Roberto Pereyra believed he should have been awarded a penalty when his free-kick struck Brighton’s Glenn Murray on the elbow – VAR disagreed 

Yellow and red cards: Can be shown to managers and coaches

Referees now have the power to brandish yellow and red cards to managers and coaching staff if they step out of line.

Pep Guardiola had become the first Premier League manager to be shown a yellow card during the Community Shield last weekend.

But no manager or coach was carded during the opening weekend of the Premier League season.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is shown a yellow card during the Community Shield

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is shown a yellow card during the Community Shield

 





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